A BENDIGO man who broke into a home with a pitchfork to steal drugs has been released from prison on a community corrections order.
Christopher Johnston, 30, was sentenced in the County Court on Friday after he pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated burglary.
The court heard about 2am on April 14, 2019, Johnston and two unknown women broke into a Carisbrook address. Johnston was carrying a knife and a small pitchfork.
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The court heard Johnston pointed the knife at the victim, demanding she hand over money and marijuana.
One of Johnston's associates then assaulted the victim, punching the woman to the head 12 times, kicking her in the face, and grabbing her in the throat.
The court heard Johnston told his co-offenders there was nothing at the house. He then stole a packet of cigarettes and left with the two women.
Johnston was arrested at a California Gully address on May 1, 2019. He provided no comment to officers during his police interview.
Judge Gerard Mullaly on Friday acknowledged that Johnston had already served one year and 10 months in prison after he was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on December 12, 2019.
Judge Mullaly said Johnston was originally charged with more serious offences for the aggravated burglary matter, which was why it did not resolve on that same date.
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He said the prosecution changed the charge earlier this year after difficulties with the victim's evidence.
"It's clear that your plea is a step of real significance in resolving this matter," Judge Mullaly said.
"While your plea was negotiated, you lost the real opportunity for concurrency and the opportunity to apply for parole."
Judge Mullaly said there was a "fine balance" between judging the seriousness of the offending and the time Johnston had already served.
"I can't ignore what you did," the judge said. "The complainant was entitled to feel safe in her home."
Judge Mullaly convicted and sentenced Johnston to a 24-month community corrections order.
If Johnston had not pleaded guilty, he would have been sentenced to three years and three months in prison with a non-parole period of two years and three months.
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